Strange Bedfellows: What the RBI and FTII have in common!

Hi Readers,

Here’s another Tweakonomics piece on how the FTII and the RBI are both tired of unnecessary Government intervention. The piece appears in my Tweakonomics column in the Hindu Business Line and you can see it at http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/strange-bedfellows/article7482009.ece. Else read it here directly. Do send in your views and comments! Enjoy!

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The RBI, which has been reeling under the nasty shock of having four government representatives on the Monetary Policy Committee, has found a new friend. Just as Dr Rajan was wondering how to best indicate delicately to the government to leave the RBI alone, he got a call from the President of the Student’s Association at the FTII.

“Don’t worry Sir, we are on our way to Delhi!” yelled the young student on the line.

“And we’re definitely taking up your case! After all, our issues are the same. Government intervention where it’s not needed. We’ve written a letter to the government indicating that the post of a chairperson is an academic one, not an honorary one. Holds for you too, Sir. Just substitute the word chairman with committee. You want me to send you our draft letter? It’s perfect for you, Sir. We’ve further said that we’ve always had chairpersons with credibility. Same for you. So why meddle now? How can the country run with RBI governor discussing interest rates with people randomly appointed by the government? Just look down from your window, Sir, and you’ll see how creatively we’ve represented you problem.”

Rajan looked down from his 18th floor window, where, to his consternation, he found seven seats with question marks atop them, with stones in four of them.

There were also some students painting graffiti on the walls. In red. Heaven help me! “We don’t like the Monitory Policy Committee” And the other one read “Good-bye, Autonomy! Welcome, Autocracy!” Whaaaaaaat!

“Hey, you listen to me..”, he began, suddenly unsure how to react to such a filmy representation of the monetary policy committee issue.

“Brilliant, isn’t it?” shouted the Students’ President in glee. “And we’ve also made banners for you, Sir. Very interesting theme. Game of thrones, Sir. Optionally, do you want to go on a 40 day strike? I am telling you, Sir. Nothing works like a strike. Just take a chill pill and rest at home. They will immediately take interest in the interest rate, Sir. You are too mild and hence, they are putting pressure. Don’t worry. We are on your side.”

Now Rajan got seriously scared. “Listen, young man, this is no way to protest. We’ve got our own methods of protesting. Academic ones. Very dignified. After all, I am meeting with the FM early next month. I am sure I can convince the FM.”

“Excellent, Sir!” came in the youthful voice, now sounding uber-excited. “You’ve got FM on your side? Which one, Sir? 93.5 Red FM? Bajaate raho, Sir! Or 98.3 Radio Mirchi? It’s hot! And you’re so cool, Sir! Best for you is 94.3 Radio One. Maximum Music, Maximum Choice. But you are facing maximum music and minimum choice, Sir! Very clever of you to get media partners. Superb. Wish we had thought of this before.”

Aaaaaaaarrrrrgh! Now how do I tell this guy not to help me, Guv was thinking, when to his horror, came the next piece of advice.

“Rahul Gandhi is visiting us next week, Sir. To show solidarity to our cause. You want him in Mumbai? I’ll get him there.”

Rajan, who’d been stunned into silence with all these creative happenings, suddenly found his voice.

“Listen. I do NOT, I repeat, do NOT want Rahul Gandhi here. Ok? Neither do I want any of these strikes and banners. We’ll handle this our way own way.”

The Student’s President sounded a bit doubtful. “Are you sure? I’ve heard that once Yudhishthir comes to FTII, the other four Pandavas will come to the Monetary Policy Committee!”

Econ mom at 40…

I turned 40 this month. It’s definitely not the most cheerful thought in my life right now. Even if turning 40 means that the benchmark for my weight loss program moves from Deepika Padukone to a more manageable Reema Lagu. In a desperate attempt to feel better, I tried asking the Hindu Business Line Editor if he would allow me to write a 700 word column instead of the tight-as-a-noose 600 word limit he sets me. But nope. The older they are, the more dangerous they become and need to be controlled even more, is the Bee-Line directive for expressive female writers.

On the home front, Hubby, who made it to this position some 3 years ago, is sniggering at my discomfort now that I am officially “over” the hill. Aaaarrrgh! My Lil One, who believes that women older than 35 are anyway technologically challenged and belong to the Bronze Age or something, was looking forward with great scientific interest to the pass-over moment when mom would become an antique belonging to the Jurassic Age. And he is irritated to find that mom pretty much looks the same, acts as weird as before and can yell even louder than the 30s version. Sigh. I am depressed.

But how the hell did Raghuram Rajan come to know about this is what I want to know. To predict that this Great Depression is around the corner with such terrific accuracy! What a cool dude! But I tell you, when one economist is in trouble, it’s only other economists that come to the rescue. Editor, I hope you are reading this and squirming.

Dr. Rajan did his bit with his early warning signal. After all, forewarned is forearmed. And Arun Jaitley is trying to get me to smile by telling me that India is a bright spot in a dark world. FM, this is really sweet of you, but you know, I turned 40. Not 4.

Dr. Sen and Dr. Bhagwati have stopped bickering and have not taken a single pot-shot at each other for the past one month. How nice! Though, on second thoughts, a much better birthday present would be the two engaging in a clash over something crazy like whether Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a saffron NDA version of a more UPA Veer-Zaara.

And the girls have simply outdone themselves. Janet Yellen, the renowned dove, has suddenly done quite the volte-face and turned hawkish. “What!” she declared to the media with the curled lip and spiteful voice, “Maintain low interest rates in the US when this woman turns 40! I shall raise a toast immediately and the interest rates in a while in her honor.” I take a bow, Miss Yellen. With this statement, the markets have gone into a tizzy and the dollar has suddenly become expensive. Central Banks, FIIs, Mutual Funds and Investment Banks are all lapping up the dollar, causing the gold prices to crash. Thank you, Janet!

Angela Merkel, my other friend, adds on to this birthday cheer in her own way. Mmmuah! Why else did you think that this finance hardliner suddenly took on the “I shall not let my home break up” role, reminiscent of the ever sacrificing Indian Bahu in those insufferable soaps? Retaining Greece inside the Eurozone makes the Euro weaker and the already strong dollar, stronger. Hurrah! That has made dollar-denominated oil less attractive to traders using other currencies. The oil market is simply reeling under the bearish sentiment and the WPI-led inflation numbers in India continue to be negative.

I totally like it. Lower crude translates into lower prices for oil-based products. Very useful for depressed women economists wanting to buy a bright lipstick to cheer themselves up. Owe you one, Angela!

Hubby is reeling under the impact. A long drive in a new car and gold earrings are on the cards. Thank you, economists!

 

 

Econ mom on the waari: A walk to happiness

This title is misleading. This blog is titled “Econ Mom” on the waari wrongly. Actually, Econ mom as a character is conspicuous in this blog by her absence. Because this is the ONLY walk I have done where Econ Mom did not, or rather, could not surface. My first Waari from Alandi to Pune.

This is easily the most fun thing I’ve done in a long time. And easily, the most crazy as well. Walking 23 kms straight. From Alandi to Pune. As a part of the Marathi Waari. Chanting, singing, dancing, walking the path to salvation. With the waarkaris. Ram Krishna Hari.

Maharashtra, the land of saints. In every district, in every nook and cranny, in every bhajan sung in that remote village, in every granny’s story, you’ll find a mention of saints. Saints are revered in that it is they who show the path towards the ultimate truth. Saints, from different castes, even religions, have found acceptance in the Maharashtrian culture and have been looked upon as friends, guides and philosophers in the eternal quest for truth.

The Saints, their deity and the Waari

Sant Dnyaneshwar, who with his three siblings, was treated as an outcast by the society 700 years ago, had no bitterness, no qualms, no regrets to share back. In return of the humiliation, he only had his Abhangs (devotional poetry, for lack of other words) and his masterpiece “Dnyaneshwari” to offer back to the society. Dnyaneshwari, which he wrote when he was 16, is the most prolific and yet spontaneous, scientific yet literary interpretation of the Bhagwad Gita in Prakrit. Since the Bhagvad Gita was told to Arjun in Sanskrit, a language that was fast disappearing then, most people found it difficult to understand it. The Gita’s interpretation in Prakrit (Marathi) was a Godsend to people who could now fathom the teachings of the main script of Lord Krishna easily; that the interpretative content is a masterpiece was an added-on attraction.

Whilst the Master wrote his Dnyaneshwari at Nevasa (Marathwada), there were other saints that were contemporarily creating new thought streams throughout Maharashtra. There was Namdeo, famous for his many Abhangs which he used to present to the people through a very interesting art form- the Kirtans. There was Gora Kumbhar, the potter, who famously said that in every potter resides a Guru, who has to make sure that soft, mushy, immature clay gets converted into a more mature and infinitely useful avatar. And then there was Janabai, the lady saint, whose bhajans reveal as much of her softer side as her hard penance that takes her close to the truth. There were Visoba Khechar, Savta Mali, Sant Kurmdas, Narhari Sonar, Chokha Mela… all contributing to spiritual awakening in Maharashtra in their own unique ways.

The common thread running here is Vithoba or Pandurang, the deity at Pandharpur. There are so many wonderful things about Pandurang, the most fascinating being that his name is “Pandurang,” one who is fair, when his idol is completely black. In the darkness of the self will one find light. It is believed that Sant Dnyaneshwar used to walk his way to Pandharpur to meet his favourite deity, a tradition that lakhs of people follow all over Maharashtra, even 700 years after the great Master wrote his Dnyaneshwari.

Preparations at home

I have been a big fan of this Waarkari sect for the longest period of time. And while I have walked small bits of some dindis earlier, I had never done the Alandi-Pune stretch, always intimidated by the idea of walking 23 kms. However, the idea had been increasingly gripping my mind, the most insistent thought process being that as I grow older, the 23 kms will become more and more challenging, culminating ultimately into a life-long regret, something that I DEFINITELY do not want on my plate at the ripe age of 85.

So, when my friends Anagha, Vandana and Meenal called saying that they knew someone who’d drop us off at Alandi and then we would walk down from Alandi with the waarkaris, it was a call my heart could not ignore. I admit I was a bit scared, and Lil One’s observations about my physique and critical appraisals of my muscle strength were doing nothing to boost my confidence. Hubby was trying to keep a straight face and told me super-sweetly that he would do his bit and come to pick me up when I’d suddenly drop to the ground. “If”, I said with gritted teeth, “if I drop to the ground”. He tried to look surprised. “That’s what I said, dear. Now, you can’t be losing your temper just before the Waari. Focus. Ram Krishna Hari.” Oh, I’ll get him. Ram Krishna Hari.

We Four

The day arrived. We met in Pune and headed to the bus that was to take us to Alandi. There was a lot of giggling and gossiping about whose husband had been the most discouraging in this wonderful idea of ours. However, behind all the talk and the laughter was a serious intent of doing this, and doing it right. I could sense my own love for the Waari in all my other three friends as we chatted up about what the Waari meant to us.

For me, this was a deeply spiritual experience. All of the bhajans and bharuds I knew, all the things I had only heard of, would now open up in front of me and I could hardly wait. Anagha, who is an entrepreneur and one of the most loving and sorted people I know, enjoys the entire paraphernalia around the Waari; the chanting, the walking, the love, she connected to it at a very deep level. Meenal, on the other hand, is a thinker. She was connecting every experience to her thought process; her mind was searching a thousand answers in this walk, she was, I thought, deeply living the walk and connecting each experience to her inner self. Vandana, easily one of the sweetest and most enthusiastic people you can meet, was enjoying the process itself to the hilt. Innocence of the self is a great quality and it helps to connect very simply; Vandana connects to any process quickly and that is her great strength.

We reached Alandi at 9:30. After visiting the Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi, with a deep sense of belonging and happiness, we began our walk with the waarkaris at 10:15 a.m.

The Walk

The road ahead of us was full of “Dindis”, small processions that walk from their native places to Pandharpur. Everyone was chanting “Ram Krishna Hari”. It was so immensely awesome to see that in a crowd of 2,00,000 people, no one had the time or inclination to talk or gossip. You join a Dindi by saying Ram Krishna Hari. You walk with them chanting Ram Krishna Hari. And you separate from them chanting Ram Krishna Hari.

Till my eyesight could reach, I could only see the Dindi flags and the Waarkaris. I could only hear the chanting. There was such energy around us that our feet were carrying us much much faster than what I had imagined. We joined this Dindi and the other, walking slowly with a procession if we felt like joining in their bhajans, walking fast to meet some other dindi elsewhere. At a place where the waarkaris had stopped to rest, some people had put up an act where Sant Dnyaneshwar meets with Lord Krishna. We could not approach the stage because it was too crowded, but it was great to see the act from a distance. Some ladies were holding Tulsi saplings on their head; Tulsi is very dear to Vithoba and hence ladies carry the saplings all the way from home for the Lord at Pandharpur. When we asked if we could click some pictures with them, an old lady told us to actually carry the saplings whilst clicking pics! So we carried the Tulsi saplings for a while, sang bhajans with them and with a “Ram Krishna Hari” left them to join another Dindi.

It was extremely sunny in patches and the sun was bearing down on us pretty badly. We were all turning tomato red and were beginning to get sun-burnt. But one keeps walking. Inspite of the sun, you chant Ram Krishna Hari. And so we walked, till about 12.30 noon. Suddenly, the weather changed and there were light showers. Only at one place did it rain so heavily that we had to take shelter. Otherwise, it was a bliss, that shower. It truly was great fun, walking in the refreshing breeze that the first shower brings, the Ram Krishna Hari chant intact. It then was cloudy and then again at around 2:00 noon, the sun came out brightly. Scalding us, tanning us, it was unbearable, the heat. Ram Krishna Hari.

I was thinking that Vithoba was dishing out a slice of life. You walk a slice of life. Sunny, unbearably hot, light showers, heavy rains, the weather keeps changing. In the walk from life to death, the weather will always change. What ought not to, is the belief. The faith. The sweetness. The calm. The knowledge that the bad patch will be followed by the good. Ram Krishna Hari.

Pune again

We walked our Waari with the pilgrims till Khadki, where we separated from them to take another route to Pune. The procession takes another route and reaches late in the evening. As we left the color and the chants and the beauty of the waari behind, all of us felt bad for one, long moment. Wistful, that we had to separate. Remorseful, that we couldn’t do more. And yet, we were calm. Happy. Peaceful. Ram Krishna Hari.

After the hustle of the waari, the walk on the Khadki road seemed lonely, though there were people like us aplenty. Anagha was wearing her activity tracker, which told us that we had now walked 18 kms. By now, our feet were beginning to hurt. Seriously. Every step was now increasingly tough and we were longingly looking at the rickshaws that we could now occasionally see on the roads. We had also taken to glaring at the activity tracker, as if it was a machine fault that we were still only on the 19th km. Another 3 to go.

We encouraged and cajoled each other, chit chatting, laughing, as only 4 women on a waari can. Friends are needed on that long walk to help you, support you, laugh with you at your incapabilities and share a slice of life. As we finally reached Pune, there was jubilation, happiness and a deeper perspective that all of us were taking away from the waari. The faith and the fun and the company had helped us to complete the waari in 5 hours. 25,000 steps on the activity tracker. And an eternity of calm.

Epilogue

Some moments are beyond logic. These were 5 full hours beyond logic. Econ Mom could not even surface to calculate the GDP increment that India gets from tradition and culture. I was not even a regular Mom on that walk. For those 5 hours, I was not an economist, or a mom, or a wife, or a daughter or a professional. I was just another waarkari on my individual trip. A trip to happiness.

Anagha, Vandana and Meenal, this one is for you! Love you all, women! A salute to your enthusiasm and spunk and fun quotients! Where do we go next 😛

Econ mom gyan on how Spain can stay inside the EU classroom

Lil One was UPSET. He came home from school, stormed inside, threw his bag to a corner, changed his clothes and sat, petulant and mutinous, refusing to eat, his face unusually troubled and angry. I realized Something must have happened in school and after a couple of minutes of artful probing, it all came out. “Our class teacher is always partial to some kids!” Oh, ok, so this is a teacher-does-not-like-me-but-likes-my-other-friends issue. “Why, you said yesterday you have the best class teacher in the world?” Well, yesterday, he had received remarks on how neat his work was, and hence, the teacher-is-the-new-cool sentiment had run high in our house just 24 hours ago. Sigh. “So, what happened?”

“Oh, she is always partial to Shreya and Nisa. She never ticks them off even if they talk. And she always sends Aditya and Amogh to stand outside the class for 2 minutes, because they are confirmed trouble makers.” Hmm. But I still could not figure out what had happened today to get him so upset. “But today was the HEIGHTS, mom!” For the innocent, uninitiated readers of this blog, “heights” is a completely wrong usage of an English noun used by 13 year olds whilst wanting to express plunging down some emotional “depths”. Really? That means it was hurting real badly. Ouch. “Today, there was general talking in the class because we finished the sums she had set us to do. And she didn’t really know who was talking. And so she decided to send Swapnil and me out of the class because she thought we were talking. And we really weren’t. It’s so unfair. How can you just punish people because you thought they were talking?”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. How wonderful! Unwittingly, what Lil One was talking about is how the classroom “talkative children outcome model” experiences multiple equilibria situations. Reminds me of Maurice Obstfeld. A classic paper in currency crises. This paper was seen to be a fore-runner in “second generation crisis modelling” in the 1990s.

What is so special about Obstfeld’s paper? Before Obstfeld, all currency crisis literature (first generation models) used to focus on which fundamentals can cause a currency crisis once they deteriorate. So think of a Central Bank, say Mexico, which has a Fixed Exchange Rate model in place. Now, generally, whenever fixed exchange rates have been attacked by speculators, you’d have a story of fiscal indiscipline, wherein the Government monetizes the debt, creating inflation. This puts pressure on BOP and the FOREX reserves move into a decline. As the FOREX levels dip dangerously, the investors look to move away from the Mexcian Peso to some other alternative. A run on reserves or a reversal of capital usually follows and the Central Bank is forced to devalue the peg. Thus, first generation crisis models have mostly been about emphasizing the need for robust fundamentals, good FOREX levels and controlled inflation patterns in fixed exchange rate models.

Second generation models do something more wicked. Obstfeld’s paper for example, is a classic wherein he emphasizes not only the need for the fundamentals to be good, but more so to look good to the investors. Let me explain.

A country with bad fundamentals, he claims, will automatically always move towards crisis. Aditya and Amogh, the trouble makers, always head out of the classroom. The countries with rocksolid fundamentals will always move to a no-crisis scenario. Shreya and Nisa, the scholars, never talk and hence are never sent out.

It is in the country with the “middle set” of fundamentals (Lil One and Best Friend, unfortunately!) that multiple equilibria can actually exist, depending on what the market thinks of you. If the investors “feel” that the fixed exchange rate will be devalued sooner or later, then it makes sense for them to move out of the domestic currency into the dollar. What ensues is a speculative attack on the currency. However, if they are convinced that there is no threat of devaluation, no speculative attack occurs and the country continues on its Business-As-Usual (BAU) growth path. If teacher thinks you are talking, you get sent out. If she can be prevented from thinking so, you are in!

Now, this brings us to an interesting concept: Signalling. It is in the middle set of fundamentals that the role of a Central Bank becomes extremely important, not only from the perspective of controlling inflation, but equally importantly, from perspective of giving out the correct signals to the market. If the Bank behaviour gives a signal that the exchange rate parity will be protected, come hell or high water, it helps to calm the market and hence prevents the attack from happening.

Why is a multiple equilibria discussion relevant in today’s Eurozone context? It is not that relevant for Greece, which definitely has bad fundamentals and hence will witness very low sentiment in the next 2-3 years. Similarly, Italy, Portugal and Ireland with debt-GDP ratios of 133%, 129% and 123% are definitely high debt-bad fundamental economies.

But look at “middle set” of fundamentals such as those in Spain, with a 93% debt-GDP ratio. If investors believe in the growth story that Spain offers, they will continue to show confidence, the spreads would gradually reduce and Spain could have a smooth medium term growth trajectory. However, a minimum hint of trouble, a political conspiracy there, at the mere whiff of a problem, investors could flee the market sparking huge self fulfilling crisis issues in Spain.

The IMF has recently praised Madrid for its structural reforms and has revised the growth estimates for Spain upwards. However, reforms have meant lesser Government expenditure and there’s an all time high unemployment level that is sparking off concerns regarding political stability. If the existing party gets voted out of power in the upcoming elections and the new party in power believes in Syriza kind of zero austerity measures, this could well be the trigger that could throw Spain out of the classroom.

Spain needs to be careful, not only with what is does, but more importantly, with what it projects. If the Government can give a signal of stability and continuation of reforms, we may soon find Spain recovering much faster than the other members in its dubious PIIGS group.

Later that night “Heehee, mom. I know what I’ll do tomorrow. Swapnil and I will sit behind Shreya and Nisa tomorrow. That way, teacher won’t even think we were talking. Because these boring scholar girls NEVER talk.” Aww, my little economist. Does he sense that the solution to middle set of fundamentals is good signalling?

 

A brief history of the Greek crisis: A ppt format

Hi All,

I have been talking about the issues involved in the Greek public debt crisis at various fora and this is a baseline ppt I had prepared for my talks. A lot of the material on this presentation is collated from different sites and articles that I’ve been reading whilst preparing; the ppt is of value primarily to students or researchers looking for a quick reference on the crisis. The presentation covers main issues upto 15th July 2015.

There is a lot of action that happens around this ppt when I support it with the talk, so in that sense, a new reader may find some gaps in it. If you want to know more about a particular issue, just write in and I’ll try to send you some material around it. Here it is..

A brief History of Greece Crisis

These are the main themes covered in the presentation:

1. History on the formation of the European common market

2. Maastricht treaty entry level criteria and movement towards convergence

3. Problems associated with the Maastricht: Connection to Greece

4. Euro launch in 1999

5. Why Greece wanted to enter the Euro: Benefits from having a common currency

6. Change in the growth profile of Greece post-entry

7. How the yield spreads, fiscal deficits, CAD and other indicators for Greece moved pre and post entry

8. Tipping point for the crisis in 2009

9. Reaction of core group in the EU

10. Bailout by the Troika

11. Greek elections and effects of Tsipras coming into power

12. Suspension of bailout and near-collapse of Greek banks

13. The crazy referendum held on July 5th

14. Why Tsipras HAD to accept bailout

15. The new bailout terms by IMF, EU and ECB

Hope you enjoy this study material!

 

Greece-waale Bailout Le Jayenge: A Bollywood take on the crisis :D

Here is the ultimate block buster in Economics. Isme action hain, drama hain, austerity hain, reforms hain, growth hain, depression hain, there are scams galore and bro-mance to boot! How could Bollywood not move in to create a movie?

The dukhiyaari Maa-stricht treaty, clad in white, with a dab of dirt (with a radius of exact 2 mm) on her right cheek and just relieved from her job of stitching clothes non-stop 24×7, is standing in the veeraan, sun-saan Kaali Mata temple, wondering why in eternity they got her here to write all the entry level criteria. “Damn, I hope I have connectivity. And this dark cave is spooky…how do the Indians get any of their jobs done” she mutters. “Hmm…The public debt ratio of a country wishing to join our big EU khaandaan cannot be more than 40%” she thinks of writing when suddenly it becomes windy.

Whhhhhooooooooooo. The little light flame at the corner of the temple suddenly dies out. The bells suddenly start ringing around her, driving her crazy and one bell actually swings so wildly in that wind that it falls next to her hand and she pens “The public debt of a country wishing to join our big EU khandaan cannot be more than 60%.”

Music. The title of the film gets displayed. “Greece-wale Bailout Le Jayenge”.

Starring Alexis Tsipras. Angela Merkel. Francois Hollande. And in a special role, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Cut to Greece. What! The public debt must be 60%! But ours is 80%! And we simply HAVE to enter the Eurozone. Nahi toh ye samaj kya kahega, Maa-ji!

And so Greece approaches the other members and promises to deliver on the 60% target. “Doctor Saab, aap operation ki tayaari ki jiye, main paison kaa intazaam karta hoon”.

Well, now that intazaam bit happened “Chup ke chup ke” when Goldman Sachs arranged some great derivative products to create better Government accounts where there were none. Nahiiiiiiii, cried the Maa-stricht, but the beta and alpha in Greece paid no heed to her.

In 2001, Greece is finally declared fit to enter the Eurozone. Chak de! In the next sattar minutes ahm, I mean, the next 70 months, from 2002 to 2006, it goes on a growth spree unlimited and is the second fastest growing economy in Europe. All fundamentals looking bright and wonderful. Its all new, muscular form causes wonder in the market. This Bhai looks unbeatable. “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar li, phir main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta.”

However, some problems are emerging already. Background score changes from major to minor chords, even as minor issues threaten to become major scams. The fiscal deficit is very high, tax revenue is dipping, CAD is emerging but the Euro is getting stronger. There are mutterings about these issues through the globe. But such worldly matters as people talking behind their back don’t upset our philosophical Greeks. Ramesh Babu says Pushpa…

“Kuch toh log kahenge, Logonka kaam hain kehena….

Kuch reet jagat ki aisi hain, har ek subah ki sham hui

Tu kaun hain tera naam hain kya, Seeta bhi yahaan badnaam hui…”

2008-09

The sub-prime happens. Greece now in trouble. Ramesh babu and Pushpa give way to Rahul and Anjali. Karan Johar sees an irresistible opportunity for a tear jerking moment in a crazily opulent country. After all, bade bade deshon main, aise chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hain. Greeks are crying softly into their pink branded handkerchiefs because they got only a 123% raise in salary. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol (dressed in an unbelievably gaudy sari with an 8 feet long pallu) fly out in a helicopter straight from the Colosseum, where they apparently live, singing..

“Sab hain tere karam, kabhi khushi kabhi ghammmmm….”

2009-11

EC comes in to offer a bailout package. Greece defiant. Amitabh-style, Greece says “Main aaj bhi pheke hue paise nahi uthata.”

Enter ECB and IMF, Munna and Circuit. “Tension nahi lene ka, sirf dene ka.”

Greece takes them literally. Only takes loans and gives sleepless nights to the others. Refuses to carry out austerity. Fundamentals worsen. “Arre, isse toh tej bookhaar hain!”Angela, torn between anxiety and fury, starts thinking of pushing Greece out of the Euro.”Driver, Gaadi roko!” George Papandreou, the PM of Greece now seriously upset and bugged. Belts out the classic “Maarne wale se jyaada, bachaanewalla kai jyaada bada hota hain, Angela behen.” Angela Merkel, having being called behen first time in her life, gets unhinged and is tempted to tie the rakhi and sob “Tum mooh haath dhokar aao, main khana lagwaati hoon. Maine tumhaare liye gaajar kaa halwaa banaya hain.” But the German discipline wins and austerity prevails.

2012-15

New PM Samaras tries the softer approach to woo the German lady. A bit of Ghazals can work wonders on the toughest of hearts, after all…

“Tum ko dekha toh ye khayal aayaa

Jindagi dhoop…tum ghana chaaya”

He would love to stoop over backwards to try the austerity that Angela is suggesting. But, aah, the khursi saga does not quite allow him the luxury…

“Aaj phir dil ne ek tamanna ki

Aaj phir dil ko humne samjhaayaa….”

When asked harshly to get all fundamentals in order and repay back the Paanch Rupaiya Baaraa Aana, this Jagjit Singh offers…

“Hum jise gungunaa nahi sakte

Vakt ne aisa geet kyun gaaya”

2015

PM Alexis Tsipras in a crazy situation. The man is voted to power believing that he will never push austerity on the Greeks. But the Troika wants commitment to austerity and won’t release funds. “Main kahaan hoon,” he mutters weakly, wondering how things ever got so crappy. Even when the Greek referendum reveals that people hate all kinds of austerity measures, Tsipras will have to toe the line, else the banks face death. Merkel unrelenting. She says that not only will Greece have to push in reforms and austerity measures, but Germany will not be willing to write away any part of the debt at all. They will claim their entire pound of flesh, if Greece is to be given a chance to be an Euro member.

What a poignant situation, one filled with helplessness and a sense of pathos. I only have Mirza Ghalib to offer in this Guru Dutt moment. I am sure even Ghalib would have never quite imagined how very apt his masterpiece would have been to describe this stalemate that Tsipras faces….

Tsipras to Angela…

हर एक बात पे कहते हो तुम की तू क्या है

तुम्हीं कहो के ये अंदाज़ ऐ गुफ्तगू क्या है?

On the zero capacity to repay the loan…

चिपक रहा है बदन पर लहू से पैराहन

हमारी जेब को अब हाजत-ऐ-रफू कया है?

(The clothes stick to my body thanks to the blood…When the whole body is bleeding and hurting, is there a need to be worried about darning the torn pocket?)

On Merkel repeating again and again how she will NOT write off any of the debt…

जला है जिस्म जहाँ दिल भी जल गया होगा

कुरेदते हो जो अब राख जुस्तजू क्या है?

Last scene. New Delhi. Greecewaale Bailout Le Jayenge has released and has been declared to be a coup by Twitter. Dr. Manmohan Singh is watching Times Now in which Arnab is demanding answers from completely bewildered BJP leaders as to why Greece is in a crisis. On BBC news, Tsipras is entering the negotiations with a grim looking Hollande and Angela Merkel. CNBC shows Greek stocks plummeting.

“You should never enter negotiations with such determined women,” thinks Dr. Singh to himself with a shudder. Just thinking of Madam and Amma and Didi causes him mild anxiety attacks. “Had he asked me, I’d have told him exactly what to do…”Smiling mildly to himself, he switches the movie on silent mode and goes back to his book. “The Being of the Beautiful.” By Plato.

Economics at Wimbledon!

Hi Readers!

I complete a year of blogging today and it’s truly been a fun experience for me. There are so many of you who got connected due to the random, mad thoughts that I post…I have enjoyed the interactions with all of you immensely! There are current students and past students who have been a major part of this virtual classroom (if you will) at manasiecon and they have been a HUGE source of positive energy for me…thank you, guys! This blog also gave me a chance to try my hand at “Tweakonomics”, a column that I write for the Hindu Business Line. A special thanks to R. Srinivasan for having visited the blog and converted it into crazy tweakonomics.

In the meanwhile, there are more wicked thoughts coming your way…so keep reading, keep laughing.

How apt to celebrate this bloganniversary with a mad look at how Wimbledon outcomes change eco-political systems throughout the world 😛

This column appears in today’s Hindu Business Line under “Tweakonomics” and you may want to view it directly at http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/net-results/article7413884.ece

Else, read it here…as usual, your comments and views are most welcome!

Economics at Wimbledon

Smirk if you will. But tennis and economics are connected. Did you really think its about grass and clay? More like who is in the EU and who goes away. Big serves and volleys? More like whether the stock rallies. Strawberries and cream? Oh, its an economic regime.

Wimbledon 2015. Court No.2 Nick Kyrgios of Greek origin, known for his antics on court, received a warning for “audible obscenity” by British umpire James Keothavong during the match against Frenchman Richard Gasquet. In the next game, Kyrgios showed his defiance by uninterestedly pushing Gasquet’s serves into the net whilst pointing to the hapless umpire.

This small incidence has pushed the Eurozone into a state of terrific panic. Inspired by the Umpire, British PM Cameron too issued a dire warning that he will be restricting movement of Greek citizens into UK, should Greece actually move out of the Euro. Greek voters, incensed by the ball-out by the referee, refused the bail-out in the referendum. What! Beaten by the French! Austerity goes into the net, while defyingly staring at the British.

In the meanwhile, the French do not know quite what to do and are hoping that the Germans do. The Germans are admittedly worried. Especially after Spaniard Rafael Nadal received that humiliating defeat at the hands of German Dustin Brown. Some people have opined that those kind of dreadlocks should not be allowed on the Wimbledon courts. The entire Spain is on a hair-trimming spree and contribution of the hair-dressers towards GDP and sentiment is at an all time high. Spain has now threatened that it may well be the next to move out of the Euro. Angela Merkel is thinking of changing her hairstyle to keep the PIIGS in check. What a d(r)eadlock!

And then, there’s Federer. This Federer Reserves a place for himself in top 5 and when usurped, can cause more economic issues than all of the Federal Reserves in the USA put together. Why, when he crashed out of Australian Open in January 2015, it got the Swiss Government unpegged and they floated the Swiss Franc against the Euro. It’s only with Stan Wawrinka’s win at Roland Garros that the Franc stabilized a bit. However, depreciation of the Federer form is generally perceived to be a greater problem than the Wow-rinka appreciation and the Franc continues to be volatile.

The clear winner is of course, Serbia. Serbia, which has long wanted accession to the EU, has grown tired of continuously answering to silly EU queries. What the deuce! We have an advantage. No.1 is quite our own Djoker. Why so serious, EU? Come on, let us in.

Closer to home, as PM Modi delivers a career grand slam internationally, Indian players have got confused as to which country to pair up with. The poor souls are trying every combination in all doubles events with players from Switzerland, Brazil, Croatia and Canada. Break point at Wimbledon to make it in India.

The dollar has never looked stronger and more “Serene”. Maria Sharapova keeps getting better too. Oh no, not her shots. Her shrieks. This year, she notched 109 decibels in the 4th round, a feat so far only achieved by India’s very own Arnab Goswami. Rumour is that we will soon see him on the tennis circuits, demanding answers for racquet abuses and unforced errors. Ear doctors and heart specialists in London are rubbing their hands in glee, thinking of the rise in business this will create. Pharma stocks have risen.

LaMo doesn’t want to stay in London anymore. He’s coming back to India.